Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Short Pasta with Cauliflower

Another of the recipes that Rose tried out when she was our nightly cook. (Oh, those were the days!). This was really tasty and comes in handy for meatless Fridays.

Adapted from Italian Cookbook (page 92)

1 medium cauliflower
3 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1-1/4 lb short pasta

Bring large pan of water to a boil. Wash the cauliflower well, and separate it into florets. Boil the florets until they are just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Remove them from the pan with a strainer or slotted spoon. Chop the cauliflower into bite-size pieces and set aside. Do not discard the cooking water.

Make a b├ęchamel sauce by gently heating the milk with the bay leaf in a small saucepan. Do not let it boil. Melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan. Add the flour, and mix it in well with a wire whisk ensuring there are no lumps. Cook for 2-3 minutes, but do not let the butter burn.

Strain the hot milk into the flour and butter mixture all at once, and mix smoothly with the whisk.

Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for 4-5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese, and stir over low heat until it melts. Stir in the cauliflower.

Bring the cooking water back to a boil. Add salt, and stir in the pasta. Cook until it is al dente. Drain, and tip the pasta into a warm serving bowl. Pour over the sauce. Mix well, and serve at once.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Montmartre: A Favorite Part of Paris and a Favorite Cocktail

This weekend, flipping through our Mr. Boston book, I atypically chose a cocktail the way our daughters tend to ... just because I liked the name.

We usually gravitate to sours but there was something to this drink that we both loved, like a sweet vermouth Martini but with an orange note added. We're not Martini drinkers, sweet or dry, but the Montmartre ... that's a drink we could probably trust a bartender to get right because it has just three, basic ingredients that every bar has.

Montmartre Cocktail

1-1/4 ounce dry gin
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce triple sec (we used Cointreau, as always)

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Palaver Chicken

Here is another of those recipes that Rose tried out when she was home and cooking dinner every night. (Yes, I miss those days and I am positive that Tom does...) The name supposedly came from all the talking that is done about the right way to make the dish. Evidently it is found all over Africa and can be made with beef, lamb, or fish and different sorts of greens.

This was absolutely delicious and probably one of the best ways to feed your family spinach that I have ever had. Even Hannah ate it, which is saying something!

The African and Middle Eastern Cookbook (page 136)

1-1/2 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp peanut butter
2-1/2 cups chicken stock
1 fresh thyme sprig or 1 tsp dried thyme
8 oz spinach, chopped
1 fresh chili, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper

Cut chicken into thin slices, place in bowl and stir in garlic and a little salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in large frying pan and fry chicken over medium heat, turning once or twice to brown evenly. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat oil in large pan and fry the onion and tomatoes over high heat for 5 minutes, until soft.

Reduce heat, add the peanut butter and half the stock and blend together well.

Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring all the time, then add the remaining stock, thyme, spinach, chili, and seasoning. Stir in chicken and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. For thicker sauce, add flour.

Serve with boiled yams, rice, or ground rice.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Garlicky, Oven-Roasted Chicken

This recipe continues to haunt my palate. I absolutely loved it. It is from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen which I can recommend, based solely on this recipe. It's an easy read in which the author does a lovely job of introducing her beloved Vietnamese favorites to a Western audience, both in describing flavor / context and in placing them in her memories of growing up. Not every recipe is this simple, but many are, and if they all have this depth of flavor then cooks will be well rewarded for their efforts.

Garlicky, Oven-Roasted Chicken

4 cloves garlic, minded
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3-1/2 tablespoons Maggi Seasoning or soy sauce
2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 pounds chicken drumsticks, thighs and/or wings

Marinate chicken in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil and put chicken, skin-side down, on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes and then turn chicken skin-side up.

Bake 40-60 minutes total. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.